SAP, Temple professors team to benchmark CRM

SAP AG’s U.S. subsidiary is teaming up with two Temple University professors to develop a benchmarking tool that’s designed to help chemical companies assess their customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities.

SAP America Inc. last week said it has issued a research grant to the professors to fund their work on the benchmarking tool, which will be limited to prospective users of SAP’s CRM applications. Neither the professors nor SAP would disclose the amount of the grant.

The funding will be used to develop a model for reducing the risks of CRM initiatives, said Rosalie Ocker, an assistant professor of MIS at Temple’s Fox School of Business and Management in Philadelphia. Ocker is working on the project with Susan Mudambi, an assistant professor of marketing at Temple.

Ocker said SAP wants to focus first on chemical companies since they haven’t been early adopters of CRM technology. The benchmarking tool is expected to be made available to users in other industries, but specific plans for doing so haven’t been set yet.

The professors plan to survey more than 40 chemical companies about their corporate structures, IT setups and various performance metrics. Companies will then be able to use the data to measure themselves against their peers in such areas as order capture rate, order processing time, percentage of incorrect shipments and on-time delivery of products, said Mark Pyatt, SAP’s director of CRM product marketing for manufacturing process industries. He said SAP will use the results of the survey to help users of its business applications and prospective customers to identify business processes that would benefit from CRM installations.

The research project is due to be completed in September 2003. SAP will distribute copies of Ocker and Mudambi’s final report to its sales force, Pyatt said.

Leif Eriksen, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston, said data derived from the benchmarking survey could show companies where they should be doing better in dealing with their customers and help them to prioritize CRM-related IT projects. “Chemical companies are no different than companies in other industries,” he said. “They sometimes struggle to figure out where they’re falling short.”